cover image Shadow in the North

Shadow in the North

Philip Pullman. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $12.95 (331pp) ISBN 978-0-394-89453-9

Readers first met the intelligent, inquisitive and independent Sally Lockhart in The Ruby in the Smoke. Now comes this second brilliant bauble, perhaps more foreboding and terrifying than the first, thanks to Pullman's care in creating lively, superheroic characters and then, just as heroically, killing them off. Six years after the close of the first book, Sallynow 22 and still galloping over Victorian conventionsis embroiled in high-level business and government fraud; lest this sound dry, there is also a secret weapon (""the shadow'' of the title) under development north of London that, in this setting, is as threatening as a nuclear arsenal. The mystery has many more tangled elements than the first tale, but they are all untangled and quite elegantly tied up; readers will weep at the deeds of true villainy and smile through their tears at the close, as they are offered Sally's radiant look to the future, to unfold in a promised final volume of the trilogy. Ages 12-up. (March)